The next generation

How do we provide a meaningful frame of reference for our children/grandchildren to grow up understanding God’s call to make Jesus known?   Sometimes a child experiences mission intimately, because their parents have taken them overseas; others meet a missionary who makes a huge impact or are inspired by real-life stories. Here are three memories about children who grew up understanding the place of mission:

“I have such good memories of Daniel Muir as his parents Ted and Andrea were preparing to serve with SIM in Peru. He would have been 11 or 12 years old when we first met the family. When our office put on orientation events, we would run a separate programme for the kids. Daniel enthusiastically entered into everything and his quiet, friendly and helpful nature created a very positive influence on the sessions. He interacted very well with adults too and was so appreciative of things we all did together, like sharing meals or going to a concert.

“Daniel would have been about 14 when the family went to Peru, serving there from 2001 – 2006. The family did things together and it was very clear to see that they were on this mission together. I think this strong purpose and the wonderful example of his parents was what helped Daniel make the transition to life in Peru – not an easy thing for a teenager. Those experiences with his family in Peru during that 5-year formative period, would have definitely helped draw Daniel into missions himself.” — Helen   [Daniel now serves in Zambia with his family]

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“It’s also quite common for nieces and nephews to make their own way to a mission context. For me the example was Auntie May. Not only through the letters sent back to my parents from Kashmir and the Philippines, and the exotic birthday cards that arrived, but May Roy in person on home assignment was a total force to be reckoned with. I grew up expecting that ‘overseas’ was where people were meant to go. Having adventures was also mandatory; my child’s imagination was captured. (As my faith grew I understood all this more maturely!)

“My parents gave me a mission-minded grounding that I eventually responded to as an older person; missionaries were a constant presence through my home, for prayer meetings and to stay the night — we kids would often find ourselves giving up our beds. Some of these visiting souls seemed otherworldly and super-spiritual to me, but when I was a teenager, a newly-widowed younger woman missionary just back from a tribal village came to stay, and made a huge impact. She was warm and down-to-earth, frankly admitting the downside of living in a hut, coping with toddlers in monsoon mud, or with the neighbourhood constantly peering through the cracks in her walls. So she gave me a realistic ‘how’ and ‘what’ to join the ‘why’ I already knew.” —Zoë  [Zoe has served in Africa and the Middle East with SIM.]
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“For us, growing up on a farm, missions was just a part of our normal life. My parents hosted a potluck tea on the first Friday of every month. The table always overflowed with delicious plates of food. However, there was one lady who always brought tripe, not my idea of delicious, but Dad thought he was in heaven! Tea was at 6pm and the prayer meeting started at 7pm. Sometimes there were guest missionaries, but we mostly we prayed for Chris and Helen Cowie and family who were sent from our local church. They would always send us aerogrammes, though of course the news was quite old by the time we got it. I think Mum said there was only one month where the aerogramme didn’t arrive. Sometimes missionaries or the SIM NZ director and his wife stayed with us; they became special friends and part of our extended family; some of the International team stayed with us too.

“As a young adult I did wonder if I would become a missionary but at the same time I was concerned that I did not have what it takes. Through my upbringing, I had seen the joys but also the cost of becoming a missionary. In fact, when God called us into his service many years later, this was still one of my major concerns. However, I realise now that God’s grace is sufficient, he enables us and we are supported by a team of God’s people.” — Katherine  [Now a SIM NZ partner in Africa with her husband Rob and family.]